Guys, you should have seen me today! Dancing madly in my kitchen, doing my best cha-cha move and my best rendition of I am so Excited. Because I am so excited and I just can’t hide it! Because of this! Yes, this bibingka you see before you!
Remember when I went through enough rice to feed a nation trying to make bibingka at home? Well, that experiment was, in part, successful. I came up with these mini rice cakes (you can find the recipe –> here) which were not only super cute but also super yummy.
Why partly successful? Although I achieved the aroma and flavor unique to freshly-milled galapong, I don’t think I quite hit the mark in terms of the authenticity I was aiming for. First of all, I used evaporated milk in the recipe and commercial bibingka do not use this kind of milk as it is not financially practical. Coconut milk or parts coconut milk and water is what is traditionally used as liquid. Second, I developed the recipe with eggs as an integral ingredient to bringing the batter together when in fact, the bibingka sold on the streets during Christmas is but a simple galapong batter made with ground rice and coconut milk or water. Drawing from childhood memories, I remember eggs are only added in per customer’s request and usually with additional charge. For a few more pesos, I remember having my bibingka the espesyal way with eggs beaten into the batter as well as toppings such as salted eggs and cheese baked in the rice cake.
Traditional bibingka is cooked in terra cotta pots lined with banana leaves, with hot coals positioned on both top and bottom of the pots as the heat source. As we are baking this bibingka in a regular oven, it lacks the characteristic charring obtained from cooking in these specialized clay pots. You can, however, mimic that charring by placing the bibingka after it has set in the broiler for a short minute or two. Other than that, I assure you this bibingka recipe comes pretty close to those that line our streets during the Christmas season. It’s soft and spongy and extra special with all the trimmings. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
- 2 cups rice flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 (13.5 ounces) can coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 2 salted eggs, peeled and sliced lengthwise
- 2 ounces cream cheese, sliced thinly (you can substitute cubed kesong puti or shredded queso de bola)
- Margarine, softened
- Grated mature coconut (niyog)
- Sugar to taste
- Banana leaves
- 2 Aluminum pie pans
- Rinse banana leaves under warm water and trim away thick edges. Cut leaves into about 10-inch diameter rounds (large enough to cover bottom and sides of baking pan). Quickly pass and heat leaves over stove flames for a few seconds or until just softened. Line pie pans with the leaves, making sure they are intact with no rips.
- In large bowl, combine rice flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk together until well dispersed.
- In another bowl, combine coconut milk and butter and stir until blended. Add to rice flour mixture and gently stir until batter is smooth. Add beaten eggs and stir until blended.
- Divide mixture and pour into the prepared pie pans. Arrange egg and cheese slices on top. Bake in a 350 F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If desired, place under the broiler for about 1 minute or until nicely charred.
- Remove from heat and spread margarine on top. Garnish with grated coconut and sprinkle with sugar to taste. Serve hot.